A relic of a bygone age? Causation, time symmetry and the directionality argument

Farr, Matt and Reutlinger, Alexander (2013) A relic of a bygone age? Causation, time symmetry and the directionality argument. Erkenntnis, 78 SUPP.2: 215-235. doi:10.1007/s10670-013-9510-z


Author Farr, Matt
Reutlinger, Alexander
Title A relic of a bygone age? Causation, time symmetry and the directionality argument
Journal name Erkenntnis   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0165-0106
1572-8420
Publication date 2013-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9510-z
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 78
Issue SUPP.2
Start page 215
End page 235
Total pages 21
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Language eng
Abstract Bertrand Russell famously argued that causation is not part of the fundamental physical description of the world, describing the notion of cause as "a relic of a bygone age" (Russell in Proc Aristot Soc 13:1-26, 1913). This paper assesses one of Russell's arguments for this conclusion: the 'Directionality Argument', which holds that the time symmetry of fundamental physics is inconsistent with the time asymmetry of causation. We claim that the coherence and success of the Directionality Argument crucially depends on the proper interpretation of the 'time symmetry' of fundamental physics as it appears in the argument, and offer two alternative interpretations. We argue that: (1) if 'time symmetry' is understood as the time-reversal invariance of physical theories, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument should be rejected; and (2) if 'time symmetry' is understood as the temporally bidirectional nomic dependence relations of physical laws, then the crucial premise of the Directionality Argument is far more plausible. We defend the second reading as continuous with Russell's writings, and consider the consequences of the bidirectionality of nomic dependence relations in physics for the metaphysics of causation.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Sun, 23 Aug 2015, 12:28:25 EST by Matt Farr on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry